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Omni-Path Spin-Out Aims To Help HPC Partners Keep Nvidia In Check

‘One of our competitors is going full solution. They‘re getting deeper and deeper into not needing anybody else. And so that eliminates choice and creates opportunity for us,’ says Phil Murphy, CEO of Intel Omni-Path spin-out Cornelis Networks, in an interview with CRN.

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‘We Can Make Sure That There's Choice Across The Board’

Something unexpected has happened in the high-performance computing space: Several months after Mellanox Technologies, the only high-speed interconnect player in town, became part of Nvidia’s ascendant data center business, Intel’s depreciated competing product line is getting revived in a spun-off firm that will give partners more choice again in the growing market.

Phil Murphy, CEO of the Intel spin-out, Cornelis Networks, believes the company’s Omni-Path Architecture interconnect technology can help serve as a check against the vertical integration and industry consolidation that is being pushed by Nvidia. The GPU juggernaut is increasingly pushing complete solutions like the DGX systems, he said, and could eventually own three important components in HPC — the GPU, the interconnect and the CPU — with its pending acquisition of Arm.

[Related: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang: Our Future Is About ‘Data Center-Scale Computing’ ]

“What we‘ve seen is industry consolidation, so elimination of choice. We’ve seen vertical integration, which makes it really difficult for folks that are not part of that vertical integration, the other OEMs, for example, to know what path to take,” Murphy said in an interview with CRN on Tuesday. “We’ve seen one of our competitors — I guess I should be careful what I say here — but one of our competitors is going ‘full solution.’ They’re getting deeper and deeper into not needing anybody else. And so that eliminates choice and creates opportunity for us.”

Nvidia declined to comment.

Cornelis came out of stealth mode Wednesday and announced that it had raised a $20 million Series A funding round led by Downing Ventures, with participation from Chestnut Street Ventures and Intel Capital, which gained a stake in the company in exchange for transferring Omni-Path Architecture’s intellectual property, product inventory and support agreements to Cornelis.

In his interview with CRN, Murphy, one of Omni-Path’s architects, said now that the Omni-Path technology is no longer under Intel, it opens up what kinds of partnerships are possible in the future.

“What we can do as an independent company is we can make sure that there‘s choice across the board,” he said. “We can work with all the different distribution partners, but we can also work with other technologies, not necessarily Intel technologies, and broaden the reach.”

What follows is an edited transcript of CRN’s interview with Murphy, who talked about Omni-Path’s advantages over Nvidia’s Mellanox InfiniBand interconnect, the company’s ability to serve 100- and 200-gigabit needs, future product plans and how Cornelis wants to provide customers and partners more choice in the HPC market.

 
 
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